Third time lucky for the actress, Ann Street Barry (1733-1801)

Ann Street was born April 8th, 1733, the daughter of James Street, an eminent apothecary of Bath. Her brother William later became the mayor of Bath.  On March 17th, 1754 at Bedminster, Somerset Ann married the actor, William Dancer who, by all accounts appears to have been the most unpleasant of men.

'Lady Molineux' by James Watson, printed for Robert Sayer, after Tilly Kettle.
‘Lady Molineux’ by James Watson, printed for Robert Sayer, after Tilly Kettle. © National Portrait Gallery, London

The couple performed on stage in London around 1758, where Ann became the doyenne of the tragedies. This marriage was short-lived as in 1759 Dancer died, leaving Ann a mere 26-year-old widow, but as she was already having a close relationship with a fellow actor, the renowned Spranger Barry she sought solace in his arms.

Barry, born 1719, was an Irish actor, who had originally been trained by his father as a silversmith but was said to be a descendant of Lord Santry. Certainly, he lived like a lord. He married a woman who bought with her a £15,000 dowry, so life was good. The problem was that he spent money like water and became bankrupt very quickly. So, with an interest in the theatre, he took to the stage, to earn more money.  Barry first performed at Smock Alley, Ireland and was affectionately known as the ‘silver-tongued actor’ and rapidly became regarded as a brilliant actor.

Spranger Barry. The Garrick Club Collections
Spranger Barry. The Garrick Club Collections

The couple met whilst working in Dublin and began an affair prior to the death of Ann’s first husband, then after his death, they decided to move to the bright lights of London where Barry had worked previously. The couple continued their stage work performing on the stage at Drury Lane, then Covent Garden.

Crow Street Theatre, Dublin
Crow Street Theatre, Dublin

On January 10th, 1777 Barry died at their home in Cecil Street and was buried in the cloisters at Westminster Abbey, but his rival throughout his career, Garrick was buried inside!  He did, however, leave Ann a well provided for widow. She was named in his will as the sole beneficiary of his not insignificant estate. He left her a house in Streatham, Surrey, leasehold plus the Theatre Royal, Crow St, Dublin along with a property adjoining it. Having written his will he did however lease the Dublin theatre to a Thomas Ryder, so quite how much Ann benefitted from this legacy we do not know for sure, but in a letter written by John Ord (barrister), in ‘Letters Addressed to Mrs Bellamy occasioned by her Apology’ it would seem that Ann’s solicitor advised John Ord, that Mr Barry had died insolvent, and that the theatre in Dublin would not pay the creditors there.

John Ord, by  H. Edridge, 1806
John Ord, by  H. Edridge, 1806

John Ord then tried to personally sue Ann and husband number three, who she married within two years of becoming widowed, was a Thomas Crawford, a successful young lawyer, again from Ireland, for the money owed, but somehow Ann’s husband

‘kept out of the process of the Court of Chancery; and though Mrs Crawford performs at Covent Garden, her person is safe, having made her husband the scapegoat’.

Quite how and when Ann met husband number three we can’t work out and there is no sign of a marriage for the couple, but a variety of documents confirm that they were a couple, so it seems feasible that they were married in Ireland.

A less than flattering comment about Ann appeared in the Kentish Gazette, 27th October 1797
A less than flattering comment about Ann appeared in the Kentish Gazette, 27th October 1797

Ann’s final performance on the stage was in mid- April 1798 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and some two years later she died, on November 29th, 1801, at her apartments in Queen Street, Westminster. Ann was buried alongside her second and apparently favourite husband, Spranger Barry in Westminster Abbey having outlived her third husband.

Sources used

A Century of Great Actors 1750-1850

The Life of John Philip Kemble

Letters addressed to Mrs Bellamy, occasioned by her Apology

Bury and Norwich Post December 9th, 1801

True Briton April 14th, 1798

Featured Image 

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A prospect of the city of Dublin from the Magazine Hill in his Majesty's Phoenix Park. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

‘Darkey Kelly’, Brothel Keeper of Dublin

Dorcas Kelly aka Stuart, aka ‘Darkey Kelly’ was a brothel keeper and reputed witch in Dublin in the late 1750s but found notoriety on 7th January 1761 when she was partially hanged then burned at the stake, for allegedly murdering shoemaker, John Dowling on St Patrick’s Day 1760. Her ghost is still said to haunt the city.

Simon Luttrell of Luttrellstown in Turkish Costume Jean-Étienne Liotard - date unknown. The Athanaeum.
Simon Luttrell of Lutrellstown in Turkish Costume Jean-Étienne Liotard – date unknown. The Athanaeum.

Over time, however, the story of her demise took on a life of its own which has now become entrenched into Dublin folklore, so much so that a pub in the city has been named after her. It was reputed that Kelly, whose brothel was in Copper Alley, Dublin became pregnant with the child of Simon Luttrell, Lord Carhampton, a member of the Irish Hellfire Club and that she had demanded he pay maintenance for the child. Legend has it that he not only refused to pay but accused her of witchcraft and that she sacrificed her child in some sort of bizarre satanic ritual. The body of this alleged child was never found, but nevertheless, Kelly was sentenced to death.

This account from the Leeds Intelligencer, 21st September 1773 gives an account of the method used to sentence Elizabeth Herring to death; it appears that a similar method was used for Kelly.

It is only recently that more accurate accounts of her crime have come to light. As to whether she did in fact murder John Dowling, we will never know, but true or false, she was sentenced to death. At her trial, she had pleaded her belly, but a jury of midwives ascertained that she was not, in fact, pregnant; had she been, she would have given her a reprieve. It is interesting to note that women were both strangled and then burned, whereas men guilty of murder were hanged without the additional torture.

A prospect of the city of Dublin from the Magazine Hill in his Majesty's Phoenix Park. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
A prospect of the city of Dublin from the Magazine Hill in his Majesty’s Phoenix Park. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

It was almost thirty years later the World newspaper of 27th August 1788 carried an historical account of her death, which added fuel to the story. It was claimed that in the vaults of her house in Copper Alley, were found the bodies of five murdered gentleman and amongst them was supposed to be that of Surgeon Tuckey’s son, who went missing and had never been found.  So not only was she a witch but now a serial killer – but was she? No mention was made of this at the time of her death.

Interestingly this latter part of the story only came to light when her ‘sister’ and successor, Maria Lewellin (Llewellyn) found herself accused of procuring a child aged twelve or thirteen, Mary Neal (Neill) for the use of Lord Carhampton’s son, Henry Luttrell. So far there has been no way to ascertain whether Kelly and Lewellin were biological sisters or merely described as such because they ran the same brothel.

A Rake's Progress: The Orgy by William Hogarth.
A Rake’s Progress: The Orgy by William Hogarth. Sir John Soane’s Museum.

The story tells that John Neal and his second wife, Anne, lived close to Lewellin’s brothel. John was a hairdresser who was apparently rather too fond of a drink and somewhat neglectful of his family and customers. He had a young daughter, Mary, by his first wife. Reports state that Mary was enticed into delivering a letter to the house of Madame Lewellin. On arriving there she was taken inside, and it was then that she was allegedly raped by Henry, Lord Carhampton. Afterwards, she managed to leave the house but didn’t tell her parents what had happened for some time. Lewellin was arrested, tried and sentenced to death for her part in the crime. However, proof seemed to appear from other prostitutes who supported Lewellin, claiming that the child was lying about the whole thing and that she was actually, at the tender age of twelve or thirteen, a prostitute. Needless to say, Carhampton denied even knowing the child and so Lewellin was released and ultimately freed.

In the meantime, both of Mary’s parents were arrested for robbery and imprisoned, where Anne, who was heavily pregnant, died. What became of Mary and her father we may never know.

Other Sources used

An Authentic Narrative; being an investigation of the trial and proceedings in the case of Neill and Lewellin.

Curious Family History: Or Ireland Before the Union by the author of the Sham Squire

Ireland before the Union: with extracts from the unpublished diary of John Scott, Earl of Clonmell, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, 1774-1798. A sequel to The sham squire and the Informers of 1798

A Brief Investigation of the sufferings of John, Anne and Mary Neal by Archibald Hamilton Rowan

 

Trompe l'oeil, Letter Rack; Edwaert Collier; Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

Literary battles with Junius: who was Modestus?

As they continue to do today, people in the 1700s wrote to the newspapers using an alias to hide their true identity, and needless to say there was much speculation as to who these people were.  We came across such a name during our book research, someone using the pseudonym ‘Modestus’ who engaged in literary battles with the great Junius. Over the centuries there has been much speculation as to who Modestus was; many people claimed it was Sir William Draper and more recently John Cleland, author of the novel Fanny Hill has been mooted. The true identity of Modestus was actually none other than Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s father, Hugh Dalrymple. But to find out why we know that Hugh was Modestus, you’ll have to read our book, where all is revealed.

Sir William Draper by Gainsborough
Sir William Draper by Gainsborough

Modestus penned a very interesting letter in the January of 1771, which jars with the topics of his previous letters and could, just possibly, be about his celebrated daughter Grace before her marriage and infamy. In fact, we’re not at all sure that this letter was actually written by Hugh, as it is of such a change of topic than his others. We have more than a sneaking suspicion that it was perhaps his namesake eldest son who might just have penned this one, using his father’s pseudonym. We do know he later wrote to the newspapers on occasion, using his father’s alias.

Trompe l'oeil with Writing Materials by Edwaert Collier
Collier, Edwaert; Trompe l’oeil with Writing Materials; Paintings Collection

This letter is very different from the others which had mainly been political. This one stands out and knowing that Hugh had a daughter who was about the same age as the one in his letter, who married in London later that year, it is extremely tempting to suggest that this may be a sighting of Grace Dalrymple and Modestus a vengeful father or brother.

The letter from Modestus, addressed to the committee for conducting the free-press, appeared in the Public Register newspaper (based in Dublin) on the 1st January 1771.

Gentlemen,

Your readiness to insert every Thing conducive to the publick Good, assures me you will not refuse the following Fact a Place in your Paper, as it may prevent a Repetition of an Action, both infamous in its Nature, as well as repugnant to every Rule of Good-breeding.

And you will oblige,

Your constant Reader and Admirer, MODESTUS.

Some few Nights ago, as a young Lady was returning from an Evening Visit, attended by a Servant, she was, opposite to Capel-street Play-house, sallied out on by some young Ruffians of the Military, by their Uniforms seemingly Officers of the _th Regiment, who wantonly drew water on her, to the infinite Terror and Amazement of the helpless young Creature.  Had the Gentlemen Reason enough to consider (which I much doubt) the unmeaning Barbarity of their behaviour, they would never have committed an Action, warranted by nothing, but the lustful Instinct of Dogs, whose Nature it is to turn up at every Post.

We’re sure you can imagine just what the soldiers might have been doing when they ‘drew water’ on the poor young lady!

View from Capel Street looking over Essex Bridge, Dublin, after Malton, James (d.1803) Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
View from Capel Street looking over Essex Bridge, Dublin, after Malton, James (d.1803)
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

There was indeed a theatre on Capel Street, but in Dublin.  Is it Grace at all and if so, was she in Dublin just a few months before her marriage to Doctor Eliot? Unfortunately, with no further information, not even the number of the regiment involved, it is fruitless to pursue this further and it must remain as merely a possible tantalising reference to Grace.

Header image: Trompe l’oeil, Letter Rack; Edwaert Collier; Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

1775 Influenza Epidemic

With the ‘flu season’ rapidly approaching we thought it might be interesting to look back at how it was dealt with in Georgian England before the advent of vaccines. Most of us have at some stage suffered from influenza although statistics show that in most years relatively few people died as a result of the virus alone however in certain years for some reason there were epidemics causing far more deaths than was the norm – the winter of 1775-1776 being one such occasion.

Weather reports in the newspapers confirm that the winter of 1775-76 was especially severe. The Thames was frozen for some considerable time, this was followed by severe frosts during January and an intensely stormy February. This cold weather could potentially have made it easier for the pandemic to spread* combined with poor housing, sanitation and lack of appropriate medicines.  During this particular winter, it was reported that somewhere in the region of 40,000 people died from the epidemic.

This report in the London Chronicle dated 19th December 1775, on the other hand, is quite amusing – could it have been a typo?? Whilst we shouldn’t mock, this would be quite an interesting to have witnessed the following day!

…a correspondent says, some Gentlemen in a coffee-house a few days ago speaking of the present fashionable influenza and how generally people throughout the Kingdom were complaining of being affected by it  – a gentleman lately arriving from Tipperary assured them that it raged more violently in Ireland and was attended with much more fatal consequences, for to his knowledge, for many people who went to bed well at night, got up dead in the morning.

How to treat influenza – well, The Public Advertiser in November was recommending the use of Edinburgh Powder as being the most effective cure for influenza but whether or not it was effective in this we couldn’t possibly confirm or deny.  The Middlesex Journal and Evening Advertiser of the 25th November 1775 reported that two-thirds of the city of  Dublin had influenza or ‘epidemical cold’ so presumably it wasn’t working for the people of Dublin.

Edinburgh Powder - Morning Chronicle 4th February 1777

We also came across another remedy in the newspapers –  ‘Daffy’s Elixir’  that was highly recommended as a cure for influenza and was especially beneficial for the nobility and gentry.

This product was regarded as being a ‘cure for all ills‘, the reality was, that it given its ingredients of aniseed, brandy, fennel seed, jalap, parsley seed, raisin and senna amongst other things – it was more likely to cure constipation rather than influenza!

Quacks Confession on death bed
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Weeks later a newspaper that the epidemic was raging across the country, but most curiously that the Isle of Thanet, one of the healthiest places to live in the country was severely suffering, so much so that ‘the parson was sick, the clerk was sick and a large part of the parishioners were also sick, that it was judged expedient to shut up the church for the day and to leave the good people at home to pray for each other.’   Reports also mentioned physician John Fothergill was reported to have seen around 60 patients per day during the epidemic. By the end of February 1776 reports in the newspapers ceased, so presumably, the epidemic was over and Spring on its way.

Dr John Fothergill (1712-1780) by Gilbert Stuart
Dr John Fothergill (1712-1780) by Gilbert Stuart

* http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080330203401.htm